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[NEWS] Brno 2005: Lamy, Gardel maintain Larbre's record


Gone but not forgotten
Jan 30, 2001
Hermosa Beach, CA
1987 Z51 Silver Coupe
From Crash.net:

Brno 2005: Lamy, Gardel maintain Larbre's record


Pedro Lamy/Gabriele Gardel - Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello

Pedro Lamy and Gabriele Gardel helped Larbre Competition maintain its unbeaten FIA GT record at Brno, adding a second win of the season to their own personal tallies after an eventful race at the Czech circuit.

As always, the picturesque Automotodrom, complete with its dramatic scenery and rollercoaster layout, provided an exciting event, made all the more unpredictable by some traditional Brno weather. A heavy shower drenched the track mid-race, with warm dry weather book-ending the three-hour event to keep the teams on their toes.

One team that has always seemed to keep on top of happenings at Brno is Larbre Competition, and Sunday was no different as the French team came out on top of a race that could have any one of a number of ways.

Larbre has won every race it has contested at the Czech circuit, but Lamy and Gardel had to work for 2005 honours against a well-matched field, the Swiss privateer being propelled to the head of an ever-changing points board as his reward. A varied podium saw the JMB Racing Maserati of Karl Wendlinger and Andrea Bertolini take second, after a spirited race from the back of the grid, while GPC Sport claimed its first podium finish of the year with the Ferrari 575 of Jaime Melo and Jean-Philippe Belloc.

The podium result was influenced to a small degree by a first lap casualty list that included several potential frontrunners. While Philipp Peter led away in the second of the JMB Maseratis, the Imola-winning Corvette spun, sending the #10 Vitaphone Maserati of Fabio Babini and Thomas Biagi spinning in avoidance. The black-and-aqua car duly collecting the #13 Lamborghini and #2 GPC Ferrari, ruling all three out of any further participation. The Corvette, meanwhile, rejoined, and would go on to run a relatively uneventful race to finish fourth.

Peter's early pace eventually took its toll on the JMB MC12's tyres and, as the Austrian slipped back into the clutches of the chasing pack, it was Christophe Bouchut, in the #17 Russian Age Ferrari, who was again rewarded for an early charge by taking over at the front after picking off the cars starting in front of him.

The Frenchman continued to pull away, as the #9 Vitaphone car of Michael Bartels and Timo Scheider moved into second, but was eventually deprived of his advantage as the rain started on lap 23. With the slower Alexey Vasiliev taking over behind the wheel of the Cirtek run Ferrari, the battle for the lead changed to one between Bartels and Gardel, with the Swiss driver eventually coming out on top.

As the various tyre changes continued, Gardel found himself being followed, if not troubled, by the Russian Age car, with the #3 GPC 575 joining in to make it a Ferrari 1-2-3. Maserati wasn't done, however and, on lap 43, with the track drying out again, Wendlinger overtook Belloc for third. Bartels hopes of at least a podium disappeared when the Vitaphone car lost time in the pits with a problematic air-jack. Despite team-mate Scheider subsequently setting the fastest lap of the race once he was back out on slicks, the car could do no better than finish fifth.

Lamy took over from Gardel for the final stint, keeping the lead built up by his privateer co-driver in the wet, and holding a comfortable 58-second gap back to the now second-placed JMB Maserati to the line. With the Russian Age car dropping back with its less rapid Russian pilots at the wheel, Bertolini inherited second place, with Melo also moving the GPC Ferrari up to complete the podium.

"The rain was Larbre's success today," Lamy claimed, "The tyres were perfect during the race, and we were always faster in the stints, both in the dry and the wet. Gabriele also did a great job in the wet - the conditions were bad and he was really fast."

"I love Brno - every time I come, I win," Larbre boss Jack Leconte added, "Now we are leading the championship and heading for Spa, which is also a very good place for Larbre. I hope things will remain like this for the rest of the year."

Second place was particularly notable for the JMB Maserati, which had suffered a major crash in Friday's free practice. After a lot of work from the team, the car took second place in qualifying, only for an engine problem to relegate the car to the back of the grid.

"I am very pleased with the result - it was a very good race considering we started last after having all those problems in free practice," Wendlinger admitted, "I gained some time in my stint, and was able to give the car back to Andrea in second position. We are very happy, we had a very good pit strategy, we had good stops and always had the right tyres at the right time - but perhaps we were a little lucky too."

GPC also claimed its best result to date, with Melo and Belloc making up for their disappointment in Imola.

"This is a fantastic result for us, especially to finish on the podium," Belloc said, before admitting that things could have been better still, "Jaime did a fantastic job in his stint, but I lost a lot of time at the beginning of my stint as I lost my confidence a bit in the wet. I was a bit disappointed to be two seconds down, but it is good to be back on the podium."

Behind the Corvette - which made it four different makes in the first four places - and #9 Vitaphone MC12, the initial leading #16 Maserati took sixth, ahead of the Justin Keen/Liz Halliday Lister Storm, which claimed seventh after a rare reliable race. The Russian Age Ferrari eventually took the final point for eighth, scant reward for shining in the first two-thirds of the race.

The second win of the season took Gardel to the head of the drivers' championship, but he refused to accept all the glory for himself.

"I do not want to say that I've taken the lead of the championship," he insisted, "We've taken the lead, as I share the car with Pedro, and did so with Fabrizio Gollin at Silverstone. This is for them too."

After five rounds, Vitaphone Racing continues to lead the teams' championship, but now has just a two-point advantage over JMB Racing. Larbre, meanwhile, is only eleven points further back, with the next round at Spa offering double points, allocated after six, twelve and 24 hours.

The GT2 race proved just as exciting as its GT1 cousin, before falling to the German crew of Mike Rockenfeller and Marc Lieb, the latter making it three out of three at Brno. GruppeM also continued its domination of the class, having now won all five races so far.

The team's #66 Porsche 996 GT3-RSR started well, but was pushed hard in the early stages by the sister car of Emmanuel Collard and Tim Sugden. When the rain began to fall, the #88 moved into the lead, the Porsche also overtaking several GT1 cars in the damp track conditions. An overheating engine eventually took the #88 out of the race, however, leaving the Lieb/Rockenfeller car with a clear run to the end.

"We couldn't compare whether intermediates or rain tyres were best, as our sister car did not finish, but Marc came in when it started raining and suggested intermediates," Rockenfeller revealed, "I tried my best, but it was very difficult."

Lieb and Rockenfeller retain the lead of the GT2 championship after their win, but the elder German admitted that they had been fortunate to lose the pressure from the #88 car.

"We were a little bit lucky today, as the other car had problems in its second stint, but Mike did a good run on intermediate tyres, and I just had to bring the car home," Lieb commented, "This is my third race here at Brno and my third win in the GT2 category. Now we are looking forward to Spa, and hope we'll have another good race, although it will be a close fight with our sister car."

Second across the line was the #86 GPC Sport Ferrari 360 Modena of Belgian drivers Stephane Lemeret and Loic Deman, but the car was later excluded after failing the ground clearance test. This promoted the #63 Renauer Motorsport team to a surprise second in what was effectively a home race for the Austrian outfit, and a first podium for Manfred Jurasz, who has been competing in the championship since the very start in 1997.

Vonka Racing reckoned it had achieved an excellent result after crossing the line in fourth place on home soil, but were then ecstatic when the result was commuted to third.

"We had a set-up problem on Friday and Saturday, but the team fixed it overnight," driver Mauro Casadei reported, "We also had a bad strategy, because I came into the pits too late to come onto rain tyres, which was my mistake, but Jan [Vonka] did a good stint with the rain tyres. Then we made another mistake by changing to the slick tyres too late, but still we finished fourth. I am very happy that the team finished its home race in the points."

The Czech team was followed by Gerold and Christian Ried in the Proton Porsche, the AutoRacing Club Bratislava Porsche of Miro Konopka and Andy Studenic, while the Ebimotors Porsche claimed sixth despite suffering from an alternator problem. The final points - as the seventh and last GT2 finisher - went to JMB Racing Ferrari 360 of Peter Kutemann and Antoine Gosse, making a fine return to the championship.

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